Taking Care of Friends

Not long ago, I told you about Pat feeding the crows. The boss crow would land on our driveway and start squawking while his five or six buddies would settle in the tree across the street. When Pat came out with a slice of bread and a handful of Cheerios, the birds in the tree would join the Boss in the driveway, and they would all chow down. If Pat didn’t come out immediately, the Boss would fly to the roof of the garage and perch on the rain gutter. Our house and garage are in a 90 degree configuration. From the garage roof, the crow could see through the picture window into our living room and would watch for Pat while he kept yelling. He never gives up.

This has been the rainiest January we have had in years. This past Monday, the 30th, it would rain and clear off and rain again. The wildlife like the crows and other critters couldn’t find anything to eat because their quarry was hiding from the rain. I figure that all of the local crows were complaining about being hungry, and the Boss crow said, “Let’s go see Pat!” The Boss landed on our driveway and started squawking. Pat took a slice of bread and some Cheerios out to him and tossed them on the driveway. Suddenly, there were crows everywhere. Pat said it was like that Hitchcock movie “The Birds.” There were crows on the driveway, on the lawn, in the street, and in the air. She had to bring out more food. When every scrap was eaten, the crows took off, and we won’t see them again until the next shortage of food.

Yes, I missed it. I was taking a nap.

Dave Thomas

2/1/2023

Highway Robbery

If you have a family member or friend fighting cancer, ask them for the total monthly cost of their meds and chemotherapy. The number you get back can only be described as obscene. How can anyone afford it? There are individuals and businesses who will award grants  to those who need them. There benefactors can be found by pharmacies and drug manufacturers, but they don’t have an endless supply of funds.

Our Congress is supposed to be looking into overcharging by the drug manufacturers, but who knows what the result of that will be? If too many of our Representatives have been greased by the drug manufacturers, there will be no win for us. Many of our relatives, friends, and neighbors could face bankruptcy and death.

There is one bright spot in this mess. Mark Cuban has founded the Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company. He intends to provide drugs at a reasonable markup, so our citizens can maintain their health as well as their financial well-being.

Dave Thomas

1/19/2023

Family Stories

I started this blog so I could pass family stories on to my kids and grandkids. I know, sometimes I’ve gotten clear off the track. Oh well, all of the stuff helps define me, so I’m not going to worry about it.

I’m sitting here with my coffee and thinking about family stories. I’ve learned that I have missed out on a lot of stuff that could have made my life more fun, or at least, more interesting had I known of it. A lot of things about your family are learned by osmosis, just by being there. Some stories get delivered like news flashes. They hit you like a ton of bricks and keep coming at you, over and over. Some things are never discussed. They are just part of life and no one gives much thought to them.

When I was 58 years old, I decided to get into genealogy and research family history. I mention my age because I want you to know how long I was oblivious to some information I should have known most of my life. My research soon told me that my Grandpa Thomas was one of twelve children of John Buck Thomas and Hannah G. Sprague Thomas. If you had asked me, I would have told you that he was an only child as I had never heard of any siblings. I thought I knew Grandpa Albert Adelbert “Dell” Thomas and Grandma Rosetta, “Etta” Abercrombie Thomas, but, apparently, I didn’t. Well, to make up for my shortcomings, I’ve got a couple of stories to share with you kids and grandkids.

My cousin, Kathleen “Sue” (Kidwell) Owens who was a few years older than me said that when she was growing up, she had lived with Grandma and Grandpa a couple of times. She said that Grandpa apparently had a thing for redheads. She didn’t know that he had ever acted on it, but Grandma worried about it considerably. It got so bad that Grandma finally dyed her hair red in an effort to keep him in the corral.

In early 1950, I delivered the Wichita Beacon, and Grandpa and Grandma’s home was on my route. I would go in and hand the paper to Grandpa who would be in his rocking chair in the living room, listening to the radio. Then, I would go into the kitchen where Grandma would have a snack waiting for me. She knew that young boys were always hungry, so every day she set out a bowl of home-canned peaches, bread and butter, and a glass of milk. After eating and visiting with Grandma, I would go in and listen to the radio with Grandpa. The radio programs were 15 minutes long and we would listen to Jack Armstrong, The All-American Boy, Sargent Kin of the Yukon, the Green Hornet, and stuff like that. Grandpa really got into it, and he would be yelling, “Shoot that outlaw,”  “Hit him,” “Look out!”  The more he yelled, the more he rocked his rocking chair. A couple of times while I was there, he tipped his chair over backwards. Grandpa was a big man, and Grandma and I had a heck of a time getting the chair upright with him still in it.

Grandpa was 85, and in March of 1950, his health turned bad and he was taken to the hospital in El Dorado, which was 15 miles away. My folks went over to visit him one evening. As they go into the hospital, the head nurse came stomping over to my dad and forcefully said, “If that old man pinches another of my nurses, I’m going to put him out in the street.” Naturally, this story was well-circulated among the family.

Grandpa hung on for a few days, but died in the hospital. His funeral was a big event with family showing up from Kansas, Texas, Missouri, and Massachusetts. I remember what a big crowd there was in the house when I heard the next big family story. My Dad’s oldest brother, Yes, my Uncle Walter, announced that he and his neighbor had swapped wives! You can imagine the uproar that came from that one. That story had wings, and it circulated for months.

I wish I had known about Grandpa’s siblings. I must have a thousand cousins descended from them and probably a thousand fascinating stories.

One good source of stories would have been from the family of Grandpa’s brother, William Jonathan Thomas.  William was working a harvest, and was kicked in the chest by one of the horses in the team he was working with. He died a few hours later, leaving a wife and two daughters behind. One of the daughters, Myrtle, grew up to marry a man named Frank Bell. Frank was a Cherokee Indian- also known as Chief Eagle Feather. Frank was a Vaudeville performer billed as “America’s Premier Indian Tap Dancer.” Myrtle was adopted into the tribe and given the name “White Fawn.”  Chief Eagle Feather and White Fawn traveled the Vaudeville circuit for several years and eventually settled in Los Angeles. Frank died there in 1958, and Myrtle died in 1972. Pat and I came to California in 1957, so had we known about Frank and Myrtle, we could have visited and gotten to know them. They must have had a lot of great stories about Vaudeville and their travels.

Dave Thomas

1//4/2023

Our Best Investment

In 1957, my draft number was getting close to being called. I preferred to enter the military on my terms so in March of that year, I enlisted in the Navy for a four-year hitch. After boot camp and two Navy schools, I received orders to Patrol Squadron Forty-Eight, VP-48, at North Island Naval Air Station, Coronado, California. We found an apartment we could afford on Orange Avenue, and enjoyed the small-town feeling of living in Coronado, and, of course, enjoyed the beach. We only lived in that first apartment for a few months because, in November, Pat delivered our twin boys, Russ and Doug. We immediately moved to a two-bedroom apartment in Navy Housing which was located right on San Diego Bay. We also made our first major purchase, a washing machine, in anticipation of a deluge of dirty diapers.

In 1959, my squadron deployed to Naval Air Station Iwakuma, Japan, where we flew patrols over the Yellow Sea. This six-month deployment turned into eight months. Pat had made friends with another Navy wife who lived in Imperial Beach, so she moved down there for a few months while I was gone.

By 1960, I was an AT2, Aviation Electronics Technician Second Class, an E-5 on the pay scale drawing hazardous duty pay (flight pay) and proficiency pay. Thanks to this, we were able to buy a new 4-bedroom house in San Diego. This is when I became a commuter for the first time. To get to Coronado, I could drive to downtown San Diego and catch the car ferry which only cost a buck, or I could drive Highway 94, and I 805 and go around the south end of San Diego Bay and up to the Silver Strand. Gasoline was cheaper than the ferry, so I elected to drive. After being caught in a couple of traffic jams, I found a back way past Sweetwater Lake and through Bonita and Chula Vista and over to the Strand. The Silver Strand is basically a strip of narrow sand and beach that connects Imperial Beach and Coronado. You can look out one side of the car and see the Pacific Ocean and look out the other side and see San Diego Bay.

March of 1961, I was discharged from the Navy. We took a couple of weeks and went back to Kansas to show the kids off to our folks. After a good visit and a good time, we returned to San Diego, and I began looking for work. IBM offered me a job, but they wanted to send me to Oklahoma City for training and then station me in El Centro. Thanks, but no thanks. What’s the point of living in California if you can’t be near the ocean? I took a job with Electro Instruments as a Test Technician at $2.20 per hour.

In the fall of 1961, Pat was pregnant. She was seeing Dr. Jim Turpin in Coronado every week. We only had one car, so she was having to take the bus. She and the boys would catch the bus at a bus stop that was about a block from our home. The bus route took them through downtown San Diego to the ferry landing at San Diego Bay. The ferry was a car carrier, so the bus was able to drive right onboard. It was an enjoyable few minute’s ride across the bay, and the boys thought it was terrific. When they got to Coronado, it was just a few blocks down Orange Avenue, the main drag, to the doctor’s office.

One day, during this period of time, Pat had put the boys down for their afternoon nap. She was worn out from doing household chores and chasing the boys all morning. She stretched out on the couch and promptly fell asleep. She was awakened by someone knocking on the door. Her eyes popped open, and the first thing she saw was that a kitchen chair had been dragged over to the front door. She also saw the door’s safety chain had been disengaged. Pat rushed to the door and opened it to find a neighbor lady holding hands with a boy on each side. Pat and the neighbor didn’t know each other, but the neighbor had seen Pat and the boys walking around the neighborhood and knew approximately where we lived. She knocked on doors until she found the right place. The lady said she found the boys at the bus stop and knew that three-year-olds didn’t have any business catching a bus. Pat thanked the lady profusely and got the boys inside. She noticed that her purse wasn’t in its normal position, and upon examination found out that the small coin purse inside was empty. Questioning the boys about the whole episode, she learned that they just wanted to ride the ferry, so they got some money for the bus, unlocked the door, and took off.

In November of 1961, our daughter, Terri, was born. Prior to the big day, I worried about the best way to get to the hospital in Coronado. The ferry would be the best way, but if we got caught in a traffic jam downtown, or if anything else messed up our timing, Pat might have the baby on the ferry at night in the middle of San Diego Bay. We decided it would be safer to drive all the way around and go up the Strand. That’s what we did, and it worked out fine.

In 1964, the boys were six years old, and Terri was three. Both boys were having colds and respiration problems. Our pediatrician suggested that they might do better a farther inland where it is warmer and drier. The weather people on TV have a lot to keep track of in San Diego County as there are four basic weather zones. They are: Coastal, inland valleys, mountains, and desert. We checked it out and decided to try the city of El Cajon. It’s only 10 or 12 miles east of the coast but is in one of those valleys that is 20 to 30 degrees warmer than the beach. We decided to rent for a time and see how we liked it. We found a nice 3 bedroom on the eastern edge of El Cajon. It was on a large lot in a semi-rural setting.

We were a little worried about the boys going to school. They had to ride a bus 4 or 5 miles to a school that was clear out in the boondocks. We soon relaxed. The boys enjoyed the school and the bus ride was no big deal.

The home was on a 1/3 acre lot so there was plenty of room for the kids to play. There was a small corral with a shed, so I was able to keep a horse. Actually, we started out with a Shetland pony for the kids, but the little devil was so bad about biting that we took him back to the horse ranch in Poway, and traded him in  on a horse for me.

The lot behind us was  a terraced hillside that had once been a grape arbor. On that side of our back fence was a pomegranate bush and when the fruit was ripe, it was hard to keep the kids away from it. While in season, they had that red stuff all over their hands, faces, and clothes.

Three houses down from us lived Norm and Margaret Trivett and their three daughters, Karen, Laurie, and Susan. They had a swimming pool and were good about inviting Pat and the kids over to swim.

We didn’t have any family in California, so the Trivett’s invited us to spend Christmas Eve with them. They had a lot of family, so, during the evening, there were probably 30 or 40 people in and out. From 1964 until 2021, we spent almost every Christmas Eve with them. Sadly, we lost both Norm and Margaret in 2022.

By the summer of 1966, the boys’ health problems had cleared up and we all enjoyed living in El Cajon. Pat located a nice 3-bedroom home about a mile away in a sub division known as “Olive Hills Estates.” They weren’t really estates, but were nice homes on standard city lots. The area was hilly, and many years before had been an olive grove. We had an olive tree in the front yard and one in the back. Both trees were effusive in the number of big, black olives they produced. We soon learned that when the olives ripen and drop from the trees, you have to be careful about stepping on them and tracking it in on the carpet. We learned that a company in San Diego would harvest the olives for free and then they processed and sold them. After a few years of that, we learned that the trees can be sprayed with a chemical that inhibits blossoming and development.

Behind our house, the entire block was just a vacant lot. After a couple of years, the California Highway Patrol built a sub-station directly behind us. They built a six foot cement block wall clear around their place. A few cops next door certainly makes you feel safe.

There weren’t any parks or playgrounds near us so we were worried about finding a way to entertain three rambunctious kids and burn off some of their excess energy. We decided that a good portion of the year would be covered if we had a swimming pool. We got some estimates, made a decision, and planned to get the pool done before spring. The design we chose was an oval that was 12 feet wide at the shallow end, 16 feet wide at the deep end, and 40 feet long. It had a black gunite bottom so it would warm up faster, and it had a diving board.  A deck made of Arizona flagstone finished it off nicely.

The pool was completed on time. Pat went to the Red Cross and signed up for the Red Cross Backyard Swimming Course. Pat was a strong swimmer, and she enjoyed the course and was certified to be an instructor.

Pat announced that the pool would be open from 8:00am until 8:00pm, and neighborhood kids were welcome. She said that if any kid needed lunch to go in the kitchen and help themselves. There would be a big jar of peanut butter, a loaf of bread, jam, and a pitcher of Kool-Aid on the counter. This was all high energy stuff to replace all those calories burned in the swimming pool. Additionally, if anyone needed a snack to tide them over, there would be cupcakes and bananas available.

The pool was an instant success. Our kids practically lived in it and the neighborhood kids enjoyed it, too. We lived there for eleven years, and that pool really got a workout. The kids learned to be good swimmers, played games, dived for rocks, and just had a good time. Pat had a great time, too. However, she said that when they played Marco Polo and she was it, she had to cheat and keep her eyes open because the kids were so fast she couldn’t catch them. We’ve talked about the pool many times over the past 50 years and have always declared it to be the best investment we ever made.

Our 11 years on Olive Hills Avenue were a great growing up time for the kids, and we all have a lot of memories of the place. I’ve documented some of them in this blog, and I’d like to recall a couple of them.

Putting our little five year old daughter, Terri, on a school bus and sending her off to Ballantyne School was nerve-wracking. The, it got worse when she was accepted into the gifted program and was transferred to Avocado School which was even farther away.

Once, Terri thought she had discovered a real treasure trove behind the 7-11 store. She didn’t realize it was a storage area, but thought it was just a place where people were dumping their pop bottles. Now and then, she would gather up an armload of bottles and take them into the store and redeem them. Then she would use the money to buy a Slurpee. Mr. Bert, the manager, knew what she was doing, but thought to was funny so allowed it to continue. However, Terri wanted to share the wealth and started bringing her neighborhood friends along. This was getting too costly, so Bert had to shut it down and tell us about it.

Another funny memory is when Pat brought Doug home from the dental surgeon’s office after a procedure. She knew he was still doped up, but she had to go to the grocery store, so she told Terri to keep an eye on Doug. Doug’s doped up brain told him to strip the interior of his VW car.  By the time Pat got home, he had removed the interior door panels and was starting on the headliner. Terri said she kept an eye on him, but didn’t know she was supposed to stop him from doing anything.

Another time, Russ was accused of urinating on a neighbor girl. The investigating officer could hardly keep from laughing when he learned that Russ had just squirted her with water from a syringe.

Life is never dull when you are raising kids.

Dave Thomas

12/15/2022

My First Real Job

My first real job was delivering newspapers. It was the summer of 1948, and I wanted to get a job and earn money so I could buy some of the things I thought I needed. My Mom suggested that I go to the Gazette and talk to her friend, Elsie Harrison, about being a paper boy. I hurried to the Gazette that very day and found Elsie. The first thing Elsie asked was if I was 12 years old yet. I told her that I would be 12 the last week of August. She said that would be perfect as one of her paper boys would be starting high school and would be quitting the paper to play freshman football. She said that on my 12th birthday, I should go sign up and get my Social Security card and then she could put me to work. On the magic day, Mom took me down, and I got the Social Security card (which I still have). A few days after celebrating my 12th birthday and obtaining my Social Security card, I officially became a carrier for the Augusta Daily Gazette- a paper boy. If I remember correctly, my pay was $2.10 per week. Considering it now, I’m surprised that a small city of 5,000 could support a daily newspaper. The paper was owned by the four people who worked there. Mike Cipher ran the press. His brother, Paul Cipher ran the linotype machine. Elsie Harrison took care of the administrative stuff, and Bertha Shore did the reporting and news gathering, and wrote a daily column. Berts’ column, which she wrote under the pen name “Ima Washout,” was a front-page feature that contained jokes, quips, and tidbits of local news she picked up on her rounds downtown each day. The paper was published six days a week and contained 4 pages every day but Thursday when it went to six pages to carry the grocery ads for the week.

We paperboys arrived at press time each day. After the papers came off the press, they had to be folded down to ¼ of their original size. Mike taught each of us paperboys to run the folding machine. We took turns, each of us running the machine for a few days before turning it over to the next guy. After the papers came off the folding machine, we counted out what we needed for our routes and carried them out front. We sat down on the sidewalk, and leaned against the store front and folder papers into the proper configuration for throwing. The store to the north was Scholfield Hatchery, and we always had to look in the window to see if there were any baby chicks to look at. After our papers were folded and loaded into our canvas newspaper bags, we mounted our bicycles and were ready to deliver.

My paper route started at the corner of State Street and High Street and ended at the entrance to Garvin Park. I don’t remember many names but will enter what I can. The first customers I can name on the West side of State Street were Doctor Jim Alley, the dentist, and his wife, Nan. Farther up the street, on the northeast corner of State and 12th was the original Kiker’s Grocery Store. I gave the paper to Mr. or Mrs. Kiker or their son, Bob. Sometimes, I found it necessary to take a break and have a package of Twinkies or a Netti Chocolate Soda. This store was too small and was always crowded and busy. It was only a short time before the Kikers moved the location a block to the north and built a new store on the southwest corner of State and Ada.

I continued delivering papers to where State Street terminated in a T junction with Kelly Road. Almost every home got a Gazette. There was only one house across from the end of State, and I believe it belonged to the Foster Falwell. I turned east and delivered up Kelly Road to Dearborn. I turned South on Dearborn and delivered down to Ada. Then, I delivered Ada all the way back to State Street. The only names I remember on Ada are Millison, Mullins, and Schraq. I went across State and delivered Ada to Henry. I delivered the east side of Henry, north to Kelly, and then jogged a few yards west and turned north on Washington Lane. There were no homes on the east side of Washington Lane which ran from Kelly up to the entrances to Garvin Park. There were no homes on the east side of Washington Lane. That side was just a worn out pasture. The lots on the west side of Washington Lane were pretty much built up, all the way from Kelly up to the entrance to the park. Lloyd Ludlum, who was a couple of years older than me, lived in one of the first two or three houses. Up near the to of the hill was a street that went west into the Park Place subdivision. The David Allison family lived on the northwest corner. Going on up the last block of Washington Lane, one home belonged to Gus Gustafson and his wife. Gus was the high school principal. I believe the last house on the street belonged to the Puckett family. There weren’t many homes in the Park Place Subdivision yet. I remember Harold Bedell, Erbie Watson, and Semisch.

After delivering Park Place, I traveled back down to Kelly, jogged a half block to the east, and started down Henry Street. I think Henry had only been open for 3 or 4 years or so. The homes were new, and the street was paved with concrete. There was a vacant lot on the SW corner of Henry and Ada. One day, Boler Wilson moved a big house onto it. If I remember correctly, my dad, Al Thomas, who  was a brick and block layer, built the foundation for it. I think that was the new home of Art Ballinger and his wife. A little farther down Henry was the Proctor home. That was Warren and his wife, their daughter, Ann, who was my classmate, and their son, Robert. The Proctors had a sailboat parked in their side yard that I think was built by Warren. One summer day, Ann invited some of us to go with them to Santa Fe Lake for a swimming and sail boating day.

The last customer on my paper route and on Henry Street was A.V. Small and his wife, Jesse. The Smalls operated the AVS Honey business out of their basement and hired a bunch of kids every summer to help them.

I must have covered at least two miles on my paper route and enjoyed every minute of it. The people were all nice, and it felt good to be out in the fresh air-no matter what the weather was. I delivered the Gazette for  a year, and then was able to get a Wichita Beacon route which paid a lot more.

Dave Thomas

12/1/2022

Beats Me

In South America and in most countries of the world, the leader of a failed coup attempt would be dealt with harshly. In the United States, rather than being treated as a traitor, the leader of a failed coup attempt is given more free air time so he can run his mouth while planning his next presidential campaign and his next coup attempt. Why isn’t Trump in prison?

Dave Thomas

11/17/22

Eagle Feather and White Fawn

I’m reposting as I hope a few new people will see it!

crittersandcatsdotcom

Eagle-White Fawn-car

Chief Eagle Feather, a full-blooded Cherokee, toured the country’s vaudeville circuit and was billed as “America’s premier Indian tap dancer.” The Chief, also known as Frank Bell, married our cousin, Myrtle Thomas. The story goes that after their marriage, she was adopted by the tribe and given the name “White Fawn.” She joined Eagle Feather in his adventures as he persued his vaudeville career.
Eagle & White Fawn

Dave Thomas
September 16, 2015

Pictures from cousin Dave Dunn.

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Old Favorites

I imagine that most of you, like me, miss hearing your old favorite songs. I’m talking about the classics like “I’ve Got Tears In My Ears From Lying On My Back, Crying Over You.” And, a couple of my special favorites are “If You See Me Getting Smaller, I’m Leavin’” and “When I Get Done Leavin, I’ll Be Gone.”

Dave Thomas

10/21/2022

This is Bugging Me

Have you ever seen a bed bug? If yes, was the bed bug on a bed? Have you ever seen a bed bug any place else? If we buy sheets and blankets, do they come with bed bugs in residence? Do bed bugs eat our sheets and blankets? If no, then what do they eat? I’ve never seen a bed bug but know that sometimes it’s necessary to put aside the world’s problems and think about things a little closer to home.

Dave Thomas

10/20/2022

Can’t Help Wondering

Reminds Me

The Russian military has long been known as the Red Army. The color, red, and the misguided leadership remind me of the Republican party.

Making America Great Again

If Trump really wants to make America great again, he should pack up and leave.

Is There Any Shame?

When the Republicans stonewall the press or parrot Trump’s lies, do they look in the mirror and then throw up?

Don’t Give Up

I hate writing this kind of stuff, but we all need to speak up. The country is in grave danger from Trump and his followers.

Dave Thomas

10/20/2022